Selecting Your Toothpaste

 
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As long as your toothpaste contains fluoride, the brand you buy makes little difference. All fluoride dentifrices: pastes, gels, powders, work effectively to fight plaque, prevent cavities, and clean and polish your teeth. The seal of the American Dental Society on the package assures adequate evidence that safety and efficacy have been demonstrated in controlled, clinical trials.

Dentifrices containing baking soda and/or hydrogen peroxide may give your mouth a clean, fresh feeling, but are no more effective in cleaning your teeth than regular toothpastes. Tartar control toothpastes contain pyrophosphates to reduce soft calculus buildup on the teeth of susceptible individuals. There is no evidence that they reduce the prevalence of periodontal (gum) disease. There is a tendency toward increased sensitivity to cold in the teeth of those who brush regularly with tartar control, baking soda, and peroxide products.

Children under 6 should use only a "wipe" of toothpaste on their brushes and should be supervised. Many children swallow their toothpaste rather than expectorating. More is not better. Swallowing excess amounts of toothpaste can lead to fluorosis (pitting and discoloration) of the permanent teeth.  Children under 3, who are more apt to swallow their toothpaste, should use a children's non-fluoride toothpaste until they can be taught to expectorate.

Is brushing with toothpaste enough to fight cavities and gum disease? No. Although brushing after each meal helps, daily flossing to remove plaque and food particles from between your teeth is equally important to the prevention of dental disease. 

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